Gladding, winner of the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita in February, will carry top weight of 117 pounds against six rivals Nov. 4 in the $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III) at Churchill Downs.
The Ack Ack, run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track for 3-year-olds and up, will be the third race on Churchill's’s 10-race card that features six Breeders’ Cup World Championship races. The Ack Ack is scheduled for 3 p.m. EDT, with first post time an hour earlier.
The question mark for C R K Stable's Gladding, 4-1 on the morning line, is fitness. Trained by John Sadler, the dark bay/brown gelding has not started since finishing second in the Texas Mile (gr. III) at Lone Star Park in April. A 4-year-old son of 2002 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Sarava, Gladding has put in a steady stream of works at Santa Anita with the most recent being Oct. 29, a seven-furlong move in 1:25 3/5.
Rafael Bejarano has the call on Gladding, who will break from post 3.
Multiple stakes winner Alma d'Oro, trained by Todd Pletcher for Bourque Goldstein Thoroughbreds, is the 3-1 morning line favorite. The 5-year-old son of Medaglia d'Oro attempts to rebound from a fifth-place finish when well backed in the Philip H. Iselin Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth Park Aug. 20. He will be ridden by John Velazquez.
Among other horses carrying 116 pounds is Amerman Racing Stables’ Demarcation (9-2), winner of the 2009 Ack Ack and runner-up in last year’s race to Apart. Joel Rosario has the mount on 7-year-old Demarcation, who will break from post 6 for trainer Paul McGee.
The Gulch gelding, seeking his first win since taking the Mineshaft Hndicap (gr. III) at Fair Grounds in February, is coming off a third-place finish in the Kentucky Cup (gr. II) at Turfway Park Sept. 24.
Mister Marti Gras won the Washington Park Handicap (gr. IIIT) on Arlington Park's Polytrack Sept. 3 and returned with a close fourth in the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) Oct. 8. Chris Block trains the 4-year-old Belong to Me gelding for owner/breeder Lothenbach Stables. Julien Leparoux rides the 4-1 chance.
George and Lori Hall's Nacho Friend (5-1), breaking from the rail with Garrett Gomez aboard for trainer Kelly Breen, ran second in a stakes at Laurel Park Sept. 10. Recent Hoosier Park stakes winner Glenwood Canyon (6-1) and Equestrio (5-1) complete a well-matched field.
$100,000 Ack Ack Handicap (gr. III, Race 3, 3 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Nacho Friend (KY), G K Gomez, 115, K J Breen, 5/1
2. Alma d'Oro (KY), J R Velazquez, 116, T A Pletcher, 3/1
3. Gladding (FL), R Bejarano, 117, J W Sadler, 4/1
4. Mister Marti Gras (KY), J R Leparoux, 116, C M Block, 4/1
5. Glenwood Canyon (KY), R Albarado, 116, A M Stall Jr., 6/1
6. Demarcation (KY), J Rosario, 116, P J McGee, 9/2
7. Equestrio (KY), C S Nakatani, 115, N P Zito, 5/1